Thursday, September 1, 2011

Those 96 Hours

I have been stuck in John 11 lately, which relates the death of Lazarus. A crowd had gathered to mourn the loss of a good citizen, friend, and brother. Jesus had just arrived on the scene. Mary and Martha had suffered four painful and agonizingly long days, 96 hours really. The very first thing Jesus does when he sees Martha is comfort her and gives his personal promise…
"Your brother will rise again."
He follows that up with, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?
Martha responded affirmative. The very next verse is intriguing and full of raw emotion. Upon seeing Mary, along with the surround sound of mourners, Jesus was deeply moved. He was moved by death. It stopped him in his tracks. Jesus had seen death before, it wasn’t new to him … so why this time?
Imagine with me, what would move Jesus to tears? It would have to be something deep, so significant that he wouldn’t be able to hold back his feelings.   At the grave site, Jesus wept. Did it all come crashing down at that moment? Had he realized that he was four days late? Was the wailing of the crowd contagious? Was He caught up with the high-strung emotions of the sisters in that moment? Was he regretful that He didn’t have a chance to say his good-byes to his close friend?
His tears showed love and respect. His tears revealed his human.
Jesus knew that he was going to be delayed four days. He knew that Lazarus was going to die. He knew that Mary and Martha were hurting. I think his tears were fueled by compassion for their loss. Jesus lost a good friend too. He also knows the hearts of the crowd. He knew their unbelief. Even after all the amazing miracles they had seen Jesus perform, they just didn’t get Jesus. They didn’t understand the spiritual. They couldn’t comprehend the compassion. Some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus had to let Lazarus die. Lazarus died so that Jesus’ power over death could be shown to his disciples and others filled with unbelief. The raising of Lazarus was an essential display of his power and resurrection from the dead. He knew that this was a crucial belief in their faith. Lazarus was used as visual aide for Jesus’ redemption story. God’s purposes were accomplished. Lazarus’ healing was perfectly timed with heavenly orchestrated demonstrations of power.
When Jesus stood at the tomb’s opening he separated life from death. Lazarus’s healing wasn’t late … it was perfectly timed.
What good have you seen from waiting on God?

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